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Digital Archive International History Declassified

December 28, 1939

CONCERNING THE NKVD'S MONITORING OF INTERNATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS

This document was made possible with support from the MacArthur Foundation

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    The Politburo describes changes to its existing procedures for monitoring international communications, including requiring the NKVD to monitor all international conversations of foreign embassy officials and journalists, prohibiting private citizens from making international calls, and increasing the NKVD's work to identify illegal radio stations operating within foreign embassies.
    "Concerning the NKVD's Monitoring of International Communications ," December 28, 1939, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, RGASPI f.17 op.162 d.22 l.158-159. Translated by Gary Goldberg. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/121878
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[handwritten: from Minutes Nº [[reproduced off the page]]

Politburo meetings between 17 December 1939 and 20 January 1940

point 59 is in classified storage

from 28 December 1939]

[…]

59. Concerning the monitoring of all forms of international communications.

Consider it necessary to introduce the following changes to the existing procedure to implement the monitoring all forms of international communications in the USSR:

1) All international conversations without exception, both of foreign embassy officials and foreign correspondents, are to be monitored by sound recording and a transcript.

The international conversations of private individuals are to be prohibited.

2) International conversations are to be permitted only from three public telephones of the People's Commissariat of Communications specially designated for this purpose.

3) with respect to diplomatic and trade missions and the correspondents of Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia retain the existing procedure for the use of international telephone communications, that is, offer the opportunity for conversations from the premises of embassies and apartments.

Deprive the foreign correspondents of Britain and France of the right to use telephone conversations.

4. Apply an official prohibition in the name of the People's Commissariat of Communications to the telephone conversations of foreign correspondents and embassy officials of countries which are hostile to the USSR. If the passage of anti-Soviet information is noted in the process of monitoring the conversations of embassy officials and foreign correspondents the conversations are immediately interrupted, and they are henceforth deprived of the right of international conversations. Declare this officially in the name of People's Commissariat of Communications in such cases as those caught in the act of passing anti-Soviet information to officials of embassies and foreign correspondents. In fact, the question of the deprivation of the right of embassy officials and foreign correspondents to international conversations is decided by the NKVD in coordination with the NKID.

5) In the event that the passing of anti-Soviet information by private individuals is established the conversations are also to be interrupted with immediate notification to the USSR NKVD for the necessary measures to be taken.

6) The USSR NKVD is to provide the listening stations with trusted and skilled monitors.

The USSR NKVD is to have a group of operational workers at the recording positions for an international telephone station who are charged with accounting for and checking people holding international conversations.

7) The existing USSR NKVD monitoring procedure for international telegraph correspondence of both embassy officials and foreign correspondents, as well as for private individuals is to remain unchanged.

8) Introduce censorship of all incoming and outgoing international postal and telegraph correspondence in order to stop the international transmission of anti-Soviet provocative or slanderous, espionage, and other information directed against the state interests of the Soviet Union via telegraph.

9) Prohibit foreign correspondents and private individuals from any transmission or reception of enciphered or coded telegrams.

10) Along with the inspection of international parcels coming into and leaving the USSR being done by the customs organs and Glavlit the USSR NKVD is to introduce the post of NKVD monitor at the Moscow, Leningrad, Baku, and Tbilisi points of international parcel exchange, the number of which depends on the amount of work at each point.

11) Charge the NKVD monitors with the responsibilities of political monitoring of international parcels.

12) Increase the work done by the USSR NKVD to identify the illegal radio stations of foreign embassies and missions located in the city of Moscow.

Assign a special group of radio interceptors for these purposes, supplying them with the necessary equipment.

The same work is to be organized in Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Khabarovsk, Khar'kov, and Rostov-on-Don.

13) Close down all operating international radiotelephone communications.

14) Establish monitoring of radiotelephone conversations through domestic lines, completely forbidding foreigners the right to use a radiotelephone.

Excerpts have been sent:

to Cdes. Molotov (NKID), Beria, and Peresypkin, and Molotov (SNK)

[…]

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